Wickenburg, AZ: Party in the Desert

It was time to (literally) dust off our cowboy hats and locate the pointy toe boots in the back of the closet. We attended a wonderful, down-home-style country music festival in Wickenburg, Arizona this past weekend. It was perfectly monikered as “Party in the Desert.” Yee-haw!

The organizers put together the kind of gathering you’d want if you were just hanging out with your friends: great music, cold beers, a big bonfire, super-friendly people, and an all-around good time. It’s held on the grounds of Flying E Ranch, a working cattle dude ranch, and this was the 4th annual.

Of course, the highlight of a music festival is (generally)(not always) the music. This year’s lineup included Clay Walker, Joe Nichols, Thompson Square, Maddie and Tae, Mae Estes, Josh Roy, Tyler Farr and many others over three full days. They were all amazing!

Everyone brings their own bagged chairs (for when they aren’t dancing around the property) and the main stage was bathed in cloudy, full-moon vibes (and possible UFO lights).

The venue was cozy and charming. They really went out of their way to make it cute.

The center of the party area was the enormous bonfire. A loud cheer went up every time they threw another wood pallet into the pit. There were also yard games, a small dance floor, and a few vendors and food trucks.

RVs were “camped” (no hookups) all around the property, and as far as a mile down the road.

In short, we would definitely go to the Party in the Desert again! Every year brings different acts. Check it out if you’re a country music fan! While here, we took the opportunity to drive 30 minutes north to do a very-special hike for the second time.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park memorializes 19 Arizona firefighters who lost their lives in 2013 during a horrific wildfire gone awry. We hiked this park once already in 2019, and you can read a much-more detailed account of this tragedy in our prior blog post about it.

The strenuous 7.5-mile round-trip hike takes you up 1,300 feet in elevation.

The trail is lined with memorials to each of the fallen firefighters. Visitors have left mementos and tributes all along the route. Most of them seem to be from other firefighting companies from across the country.

Looking down from the high point of the trail, you can see the actual site of the fatalities, upon which the circular memorial has been built.

You then proceed down to the memorial. It is an incredibly moving and somber experience, and one that is not to be missed.

There is also a Hollywood movie called “Only the Brave,” currently on Hulu and other streaming services, which is about the Granite Mountain Hotshots and is definitely worth the watch. March is a good time to make a visit, when it’s not too hot and the desert is blooming with spring color.

Our short Wickenburg weekend was a fun Arizona getaway, and our last local color before our long summer trip. We’re leaving in April to head back east for three+ months, picking up our last six states to visit of the lower 48 along the way! Just have to avoid that pesky Francis Scott Key Bridge …. or should I say FORMER bridge …..

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